Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Fort Greene, for the 10th Congressional District in an announcement on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall on a frigid Sunday afternoon.
"I'm running to become the next Congressman from the 10th Congressional District," Jeffries said to cheers from throngs of supporters.
Vowing to fight for Medicare, Social Security, affordable housing and good-paying jobs, Jeffries' speech was perhaps remarkable for who he did not mention—namely, his Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Edolphus "Ed" Towns.
Instead of attacking the 15-term representative, Jeffries took aim at the "radical right-wing" in Washington, D.C., criticizing Republican leaders for their position against raising the nation's debt ceiling last year.
"Ronald Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times during his presidency and is viewed as a conservative icon," Jeffries said. "Yet a progressive President is forced to raise the debt ceiling in the middle of two wars that we didn't create and the worst economy since the Great Depression, and we're fiscally irresponsible? Nonsense."
In an indirect jab at Towns, Jeffries highlighted his early and continuing support of President Barack Obama, who he said combined the "intellectual capacity" of writer W.E.B. Dubois with the "calm, cool and collected" demeanor of actor Denzel Washington.
Towns supported then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary—a position that provided fuel for challenger Kevin Powell during his unsuccessful run for the 10th Congressional seat in 2010.
Since forming his Jeffries has raised $173,873—97 percent of which came from individual contributors, according to federal campaign records.
According to campaign finance disclosure statements filed at the end of the third-quarter of last year, Towns has only $11,240 on hand, fueling rumors that the veteran Congressman may be on the verge of retirement.
"We're off to a tremendous start. We've got a long way to go, but I expect that at the end of the day we're going to have the support necessary to get our message out and be successful," Jeffries said of his fundraising efforts thus far.
As for the prospect of Towns stepping aside, Jeffries said he expected the race to remain competitive.
"I take him at his word and I expect that he will run for reelection," he said. "He's going to have to make a case as to why year 31 and 32 is justified in this climate. We expect to make the case that it's time to move in a different direction to provide forceful representation on local issues here in the community around affordable housing, crime, education and unemployment."
Councilmember Stephen Levin, D-Boerum Hill, and District Leader Walter Mosley attended Sunday's announcement in support of Jeffries' candidacy.
Jeffries said other endorsements from elected officials would follow.